Working to convince Mamata on Teesta deal, says Modi

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PV Desk : Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told Bangladesh President Md Abdul Hamid that New Delhi is trying to convince West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee regarding the long-awaited Teesta water-sharing deal.

The Indian head of government made the remark on Sunday during the International Solar Association Founding Conference in New Delhi.

Though Bangladesh and India have ironed out several deals in recent years, the water-sharing deal has been held up at the objection of Banerjee, who says her state will not have enough water if the deal goes through.

Bangladesh has continued to push for the deal because the water is necessary for irrigation in the north during the dry months.

President Hamid raised the issue with the Indian prime minister during the conference on Sunday.

“During the meeting, the president emphasised the importance of the Teesta water-sharing deal for Bangladesh’s socioeconomic development,” the President’s Press Secretary Md Jainal Abedin told bdnews24.com.

“In response Modi said his government was trying its best and that it is eager for a deal involving everyone.”

Modi is trying to keep Banerjee on board with the issue, according to Abedin.

The Teesta deal has been unresolved since it went unsigned during a trip by then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh six years ago.

Though Modi’s BJP came to power during an alliance with Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, a rivalry has developed between the parties since.

Banerjee has suggested that Bangladesh share the waters of four smaller West Bengal rivers, but received an unenthusiastic response from the central government.

Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader had highlighted the importance of the deal.

“An election is coming up,” he said recently. “We have to answer to the people about it.”

Modi congratulated President Hamid on his second term and praised the communal harmony of Bangladesh.

Modi also raised the topic of Hamid’s visits to Assam and Meghalaya before his arrival in Delhi.

“As a Liberation War fighter the significance of the visit is immense. We are delighted and honoured by your visit.”

Bangladesh’s recognition of the Indians who contributed to the Liberation War is also significant, he said.

President Hamid said that Bangladesh places great importance on its relationship with India and that the relationship is growing stronger by the day.

Hamid also requested Modi’s support in ensuring the safe, respectful and secure return of the forcefully displaced Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

Modi said India had discussed the issue with Myanmar and gave assurances of his support for Bangladesh.